When I’m editing I often see writers relying on the same words and phrases throughout their manuscripts. Sometimes the repetition becomes noticeable and distracting, particularly when words are repeated in the same paragraph or sentence.
Some words and phrases are more memorable than others. Indefatigable, for example, or invariably, or in an alternate universe will stand out to readers and need to be used sparingly.
Now, some words are difficult to write around — work is one that causes me trouble — but others are not so difficult, and if the repetition is distracting your readers from your message, it is almost always worth the effort to find a new way to say something.
What can you do about it? First, determine if you are falling into this trap. Reading the passage aloud can help. Stepping away from the manuscript and then reading through from beginning to end is another way to detect the problem.
Once you know what some of your “crutch” words are, you can do a search to locate each instance. Then evaluate each use and decide (1) if you need the word at all, and (2) if there isn’t a more interesting way to convey your meaning. Revise as needed.
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